BY TONY POMEROY
Despite this pointless defeat, Bridgwater & Albion remain in second place in the league but have slipped 11 points behind leaders Camborne. Thornbury have moved into third place, just one point behind Bridgwater, leapfrogging over Weston SM by beating the sea-siders at Weston.
It seemed that Avonmouth were the more determined team in this encounter and were worthy winners by five tries to two. Bridgwater’s performance was generally lacklustre, with far too many errors creeping into their play.
Bridgwater were missing full back, James Martin, who was unfit, with Jonathan Hill deputising and Tom Denovan started in the backs at Will Kerry’s expense. Rob Thompson was restored to the second row with Taylor Buller reverting to No 8 at the expense of Ethan Trebbble-Westlake. Tom Fournier-D’Albe returned to scrum half with Scott Franklin on the bench.
Bridgwater had the better of the opening when Avonmouth lost possession at kick-off. However, no score resulted. When Avonmouth cleared their lines with a long kick, Bridgwater dropped the ball. Avonmouth recycled it well and eventually prop Grant Britton crashed over for the opening try converted by Joe Wearne. In trying to prevent the score, Chris Ashwin again dislocated his shoulder and was replaced by Franklin. Hill went to fly half, Denovan to full back and Franklin, out of position, on the wing.
Bridgwater hit back and when Rob Allen was pulled back as he attempted to chase a loose ball, many wondered how the miscreant – who was penalised – avoided the almost inevitable yellow card. Bridgwater continued to press and after some patient recycling, Joe Bussell crashed over in the corner for an unconverted try.
Avonmouth hit back immediately with a good, flowing move that was only halted by a last-ditch tackle in the corner. However, they were not to be denied and from the resulting lineout, set up a driving maul that led to an unconverted try for skipper, Dan Lee.
Despite playing into the diagonal stiff breeze, Bridgwater, tried hard. Hill picked up a loose ball near his own 22 and set off for the posts but lacked the pace for the 70m sprint and the chance was lost. Bridgwater continued to press and after a some patient recycling deep in Avonmouth territory, Luca Ercolani crashed over for a try converted by Buller. Avonmouth almost scored again on the stroke of half time but Bridgwater held out for a 12-12 interval score.
With the aid of a clever box kick by Fournier-D’Albe, Bridgwater started the second half brightly and Buller was just wide with a difficult penalty from the touchline.
The floodgates started to open when Wearne made a sizzling break from inside his own half that led to an unconverted try in the corner from Charlie Reynolds. At the conversion, Bridgwater replaced James Bryant with Lewis Phillips.
Minutes later, the home side achieved their try bonus point when a flowing move saw Josh Krupa score in the corner. Wearnes’s conversion hit the bar.
The fifth and final try followed shortly as, from a scrum, the ball was moved right. A little juggle of the ball proved that things sometimes go your way, as the hesitation in the handling somehow opened up a gap in the Bridgwater defence and Elliot Nightingale slipped in near the posts to give Wearne an easy conversion.
Fournier-D’Albe was injured in the build up, so Bridgwater brought Franklin to scrum half, skipper Ollie Dunn moved to the wing and Trebble-Westlake joined the pack for the final quarter.
In the gathering gloom – the floodlights did not seem to have much effect – Avonmouth continued to press and despite getting over the line a couple more times, could not add to their score which remained at 29-12 to the end.
The game was well controlled by Somerset Exchange referee, Max Weston, who, at only nineteen years old, surely has a big future in refereeing.
Rob Thompson was named Bridgwater’s Man of the Match after the game.
The Bridgwater coaches were philosophical after the game, realising that, on the day, Bridgwater had been well beaten by a better side. On the positive side, Bridgwater’s discipline was so good in the first half that they did not concede a single penalty kick whilst being awarded six. It was a somewhat different story in the second half with Bridgwater conceding six penalties and receiving four.
Scrums were reasonably solid but the wind made the lineout something of a lottery as both sides struggled in this phase of the game. The home backs ran with more purpose than Bridgwater’s and occasionally, Bridgwater’s decision-making left a little to be desired. However, if they can learn from this game and put what they have learned into practice next week, then they should achieve a positive result against the bottom but one side in the league. Teignmouth’s first ever visit to Bridgwater will kick off at 2-15 pm.
Tries: G Britton, Lee, Reynolds, Krupa, Nightingale
Cons : Wearne (2)
Bridgwater & Albion
Tries: Bussell, Ercolani
Jonathan Hill, Garryn Basson, Rob Gurnett, Rob Allen, Tom Denovan, Chris Ashwin (rep Scott Franklin 2), Tom Fournier-D’Albe (rep Ethan Trebble-Westlake 60), James Bryant (rep Lewis Phillips 51), Tom Hillman, Joe Bussell, Dan Kemmish, Rob Thompson, Luca Ercolani, Ollie Dunn (Capt), Taylor Buller.
Referee : Max Weston (Somerset Referees Society)